For 15 years, the industries responsible for the nation’s worst toxic pollution helped pay into a federal trust for cleaning up waste sites through special taxes on petroleum, chemical components and corporate income. That program became known as “Superfund.”

But in 1995, the Republican-led Congress allowed those taxes to expire. They have never been reinstated, and the money for fixing many of the most noxious public health hazards in the U.S. has come entirely from taxpayers. That funding has dwindled, creating a lengthy cleanup backlog and leaving poor communities and fragile ecosystems exposed to deadly pollutants.

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